Tower Museum to host inspirational Peace Heroines Exhibition
09 January 2023
A new exhibition focusing on the vital role played by women in the Northern Irish Peace process will launch this week in Derry's Tower Museum.
The Peace Heroines of Northern Ireland exhibition explores the collaboration of local women working across borders, political and religious divides. The exhibition will tell the story of both individual peace heroines and collectives, such as the Derry Peace Women, the Women's Coalition and the special dynamic between the Shankill Women's Centre and the Falls Road Women's Centre.
The project was initially launched in Stormont in 2022, and the exhibition will be shown at a number of locations marking the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in 2023.
Welcoming the opening, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said it captured an important chapter in our history. "Women have always had a leading role in Derry's history, helping to keep families and communities together during some of the darkest times of the Troubles. They kept local industry going in the factories, supported homes, brought up children and drove social and political change in the most economically and politically turbulent times. I am delighted to see their contribution to peace recognised in this important exhibition. These real heroines were an inspiration to so many young women, myself included, who are proud to take up the mantle and continue their work for positive change and peace in our society."
Peace Heroines is part of the Herstory programme, which was established in 2016 to elevate the stories of women past, present and future. This new Herstory project is created in partnership with the National Museums NI, the Republic of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, The Ireland Funds of GB and The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Herstory Founder and project curator Melanie Lynch, explained the inspiration behind Peace Heroines: "When I met with Ireland's former Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Nason-Byrne she explained to me that the role of women in the Northern Ireland Peace Process is a key United Nations case study. I reached out to our school contacts and they confirmed that this essential story is not taught on the official school curriculum in Northern Ireland or the Republic. Our new Peace Heroines project aims to change that and introduce students and the public to these legendary activists and inspire the next generation of peace builders. It's time to write herstory into history."
The exhibition features nine vibrant, largescale individual portrait paintings by the artist FRIZ. The subjects are women who have made an indelible mark on the Northern Ireland peace process, including Monica McWilliams, Pearl Sagar, Linda Ervine, Pat Hume, May Blood, Ann Carr, and Saidie Patterson.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Curator of the Tower Museum, Roisin Doherty said: "We are delighted to host this significant collection of artworks that acknowledge the immense contribution made by women who at great personal cost dedicated their lives to lobbying for change and promoting cross community relations.
"Whilst the exhibition aims to present a diverse range of opinions and identities, it also captures the shared concerns and goals of local women who wanted to create a better future here and how they went about creating platforms for positive dialogue. There is a strong focus on the peace building work carried out by local women, which complements our own collection showcasing the work of civil rights champions such as Bridget Bond and other local peace heroines."
The Peace Heroines Exhibition will open in the Tower Museum on Friday January 13th at 12noon and remain on display until the 24th March 2023.